The Case of the Overflowing Toilet (The Cascade Effect): Or, Why I’m Always Flat Broke….

English: toilet wc

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things happen in sets around here for some reason.  Streaks of bad and sometimes good luck – but lately mostly of the negative variety.  Here’s the latest:  We’ve had a runner of a toilet for quite some time now. Every once in awhile the doo-hickey inside hangs up and the stopper doesn’t seat properly so the water just keeps on running.  Everyone who lives here is aware of the need to jiggle the handle and listen for not only the thud of the stopper but the change in the pitch of noise as the tank refills.  So far, so good.  Unless you have a fateful combination of events that seem to have conspired to send us straight to the poorhouse, or debtors prison (Do they still have these things?)

Fact:   Logan, we have a runner. Fact: We had one hell of a storm the other night with a  tremendous amount of rain.  Fact:  These two things conspired to create a severe toilet overflow in the middle of the storm. The sewer system was already at capacity and it backed up when the toilet kept running. Fact: Our oldest daughter alerted us to this problem whilst The Viking and I were enjoying a lovely meal of roast chicken – by screaming for her father at top volume. Which of course made us think Shelob had crawled out of the shower drain or something.  Not the case – killing spidey would have been easy, and cheap. Fact: We had to use all the towels in the house to mop up the mess.  Fact: The girls and I spent the next 2-3 hours disinfecting said towels in the laundry and disinfecting the entire bathroom. Fact: I never did get to finish my roast chicken dinner. Fact: I completely missed S5/E2 of Sons of Anarchy – which I think pissed me off even more than all the previous facts combined.  Further Fact: It cost a couple hundred+ for an emergency repair.

Two days later – even more further facts: 1. A constant drip had started from the side of the tank. 2. It turned out the tank was cracked.  3. To sum up:  a new toilet was needed along with a new flange and piping because the original plastic flange fell apart when the toilet was taken out – all to the tune of another couple hundred bucks.   We decided to completely replace the toilet and get a metal flange because of what I call the “cascade effect”  also known as (Brigid) Murphy’s Law.  She’s also known by the considerably less elegant moniker of The Shit Fairy around here.

Its been our experience with any plumbing job that once we start to work on the presenting problem it then creates more problems which of course cost more money. Hence: cascade effect – a subsidiary of Murphy’s Law. This debacle proved no exception, and rather than get these issues fixed in stages and create more expense, we figured to cut to the chase, as it were.  Still, this expense was not planned for in the least, and put quite a dent in the finances – just as we were thinking we were starting to get ahead again.  (I feel like Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3).

The Godfather Part III

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…”

It would appear we are destined never to be operating in the black for long….. Sigh*   Brigid Murphy, aka the Shit Fairy, is once again hovering over Hacienda del Chaos.

It would help if the Viking was a DIY plumber – but alas – no.  The one time I let him put in a new kitchen sink he busted the pipes underneath by tightening them one turn too much and I ended up using my bathroom sink and shower faucets for cooking water for a week.  NEVER AGAIN.  The Viking is good for woodworking, basic carpentry, replacing oil filters and doing oil changes on the car, and simple electrical stuff (ie replacing light fixtures and ceiling fans). He’s also great for replacing decks, roofing, and putting in patios and firepits.  In fact, he is awesome at doing all these things.  The rest we leave to the professionals –  Cha-ching!

Ms Murphy, Brigid Darling –  Please go hover over someone ELSE’S house for awhile, Or I will have to dig out my slingshot and crossbow…..jussayin…..

Reflecting the Light

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately.  There’s certainly much (too much) going on in the world  and on a smaller scale, within my circle. My struggle, my goal, is to take control back, empower myself, and become a better reflection of the light.

The Cyrkle – Red Rubber Ball

Authenticity and Truth go hand in hand.  If I had to guess, I’d say Authenticity is a daughter of Truth.  One facet of it, at any rate.  I want, I NEED – to live a more authentic life. To be a reflection not only of the good things and people that surround me (I’m discovering more of them every day) but also to be a reflection of what’s inside of me.  And since I’m trying to be more authentic I’ll say that it might not always be pretty, or positive.  And that’s OK.  That’s real.

Truth is what it is. Sometimes it involves fear.   If there is a giant funnel web spider under my bed I don’t do myself or anyone else any good until I admit that Shelob is, in fact, under my bed – makin “friends” with the dust bunnies.  If I allow my fear to paralyze me I cannot admit there is a spider. Once I acknowledge the spider, then I can take steps to deal with it. If I don’t, then  I’m going to be living with that stupid nasty spider under my bed for eternity.  And those of you who know me know that I really, really, REALLY don’t want to have Shelob taking up residence in my house – never mind in my bedroom!

When we acknowledge truth – whether that be our fears or our anger; our achievements or our missteps; whatever  – we are then freed to respond.  When we respond, we are in control – and that brings balance back to us.  I can take karate, become the Fist of Goodness and run across rooftops! (I’m just not into that whole crashing the dinner party thing though…. obscure TV commercial reference: finished., thank you.) Truth is uniquely personalized.  My truths are not yours – although they may be similar.  I have an obligation to present my truths respectfully, to present myself respectfully and with consideration towards others. Being genuine does not mean I have a license to be hurtful.   I also recognize that I can help no one if I am not refreshing my spirit when it needs to be.  That’s a hard thing for a parent, a wife, a sibling, a friend, a daughter. But I will make time for me, because if I don’t I won’t have anything to give myself or anyone else.    Multiple roles create multiple stressors, demands – and opportunities. I have unique opportunities all the time. I get to decide how I respond to all of them.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

I’m pretty proud of myself today.  I had a situation that I could have let completely ruin my day at work and much of my evening.  I made some mistakes.  (Alert the Media! cuz that NEVER happens, right?  HA!)  Now they weren’t earth shattering ones – and others played their parts. But it was my responsibility to catch that stuff. And I didn’t.  So, I had to have the dreaded talk  with the boss.  Guess what?  I owned the responsibility and freely acknowledged that.  Which allowed my boss and I to have a very constructive dialogue; and for me to come up with a plan of corrective action that not only makes sense but will benefit us immensely in the future.  By CHOOSING not to point fingers at others, CHOOSING not to get upset, CHOOSING to think creatively – and in fact asking some others for ideas when I got stuck – I became the Fist of Goodness and ran across that rooftop!!  GO ME!!!  It’s all about the attitude, baby!

In other news on the more personal front:  I’ve decided I can assist my loved one(s) best at the moment by providing some humor. I have made it my mission to find and pass along funny memes and jokes every day  to a precious someone who truly needs the healing power of laughter right now. I want to hear and make a Joyful Noise  – and Laughter is the most joyful of all – along with song.  So please, feel free to send along stuff. Just in case I’m not as connected to the internet “vibe’ as I seem to think I am…   😉

I continue my journey towards being a better reflection of who I want to be, living a more authentic life and loving the minutes – and the people – in it. I’ve really met the nicest people on my road to ruin. Seriously. So to that end,  “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” (name that movie!)

Acknowledge What Is – be it fear, anger, failure or triumph.  But do it in a respectful context.

Take a Deep Breath – before you respond.  You’ve given yourself the gift of time, to think.

Think–  Actions have a ripple effect. Tread carefully.  That stone, the one you chucked into the pond.  That displaced water splashes back….

Be Kind – It costs nothing and hurts no one.

Pay it Forward -. That also costs you nothing, and creates positivity in the universe.

Be Good to Yourself –  In our everyday busy-ness we (women in particular) can easily lose sight of the fact that we can’t take care of others when we’re sick or needy ourselves.  Its OK to give ourselves permission to be selfish – and then (GASP!) actually do something for us alone.  The feminist movement of the 70’s helped us roar.  But its alright to admit we have laryngitis sometimes.

Cowboy Up – it’s OK to be fallible.  We’re human after all.  Admitting when we make mistakes really is liberating if we let it be.

Choose –  Are you going to promote peace or create chaos, help harmonize, or enable entropy?  Its up to each of us.

There’s so much darkness in the world.  We can choose to be a light in that darkness – a “shining beacon in space ,all alone in the night”  Oh wait, that’s Babylon 5…..But you get the idea.  I just want to really try to reflect that light – inside me and around me.  I’m creating a Light Reflections category on the blog.  I hope it’ll be visited and commented on often. Lets be a “light in dark places”, together, “when all other lights go out”  (LOTR moment) Join me on the journey. I’ll put on the coffee….. See ya!

All photographs are my own, even if not watermarked as such – please ask me if you want to use them. Thanks!

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Enough Already!

I’ve really tried to avoid posting a lot of bitchy or angst-y stuff on here – because I do realize that nobody likes a Debby Downer. Negativity pushes people away – right when one might need them the most.  So I try not to be negative very often with my posting. Oh I’ll editorialize – I’m an opinionated Swamp Yankee after all – but I try hard to keep things positive.   But lately I’ve been lead towards thinking that perhaps  I am not being as authentic as I should be with my friends and readers. The truth is powerful, yet sometimes its a stinky, suppurating, bloated, uncontrollable mess. The truth’s power is resurrective, but in order to do that, the truth first has to become a corpse.   And there’s nothing “magnificent” about THAT- unless I’m being wicked  sarcastic.  And I do that well, in case anyone is wondering, or had any doubts.

So yeah, the last few months have been on and off hellish, and this last week has been an absolute nightmare.  A nightmare  I have absolutely no control over and limited influence with.  Several people in my personal circle are dealing with serious illness right now; or are awaiting confirmation or an “all clear”.  The issues with my mother and step dad continue to spiral up and away – and I still have a front row seat to all that. Then there’s financial stress, always fun…. I’m also dealing with the dreaded M word  and while so far the hot flashes have not shown up – my mood is all over the place and my reserves of patience deplete quickly.  Let’s just say I am not suffering fools gladly these days, shall  we? All of which makes the communication dynamic with my mother quite “lively” at times. Several of you I have messaged, so you know the deets. I appreciate your thoughts, advice, support and good wishes more than you know.

I find it helpful to vent, but some of  those I vent to often misinterpret it. They don’t like to see me upset, and it gets them upset.  I’ve told them that I’m just venting, then I feel better and can cope. I need to get all that crap out of me- but it still gets misinterpreted.  Plus, now they are dealing with their own issues and I do NOT want to cause them any additional stress. Soooo  yeah – here I am, frantically rowing the boat with one oar while it slowly sinks. Translation:  locking myself in my room, screaming at top volume,  and then curling up on my bed to sob quietly. (so far I have avoided sucking my thumb, but I’ve been tempted) And the Viking, the one I should be able to rely on, well he seems to “get” it sometimes.  Other times, I feel like I’m dealing with a 2 year old….  The girls know enough to just let me be- or just hug me, but the supposed “grown up” is becoming the uber-needy one.  I don’t like being needed as much as I seem to be these days.  Especially when I feel like few are listening to what I need.

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. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It feels to me like people just don’t understand I’ve got nothing left at the moment.  There’s a HUGE empty pit of blankness inside me now.  Reserves of strength and happiness occasionally trickle in – enough so I can function through my days anyway.  But I’m going nowhere fast.  There’s little to look forward to – and very little money to do much of anything I consider fun.  “Going for walks in my neighborhood” is not an option with the weather  we have been having anyway (I can’t breathe soup) and I’ve lived here a long time – seen it already – BORING – also, few of my neighbors speak English and I don’t speak Russian.  I can’t visit with them very much. I did bite the money bullet and book an overnight trip to stay in Gloucester next weekend with the Viking and go on a Whale Watch  (a birthday present for him – he turns 47 on Thursday)  However, I may have to cancel those plans in order  to be available if those in my circle need me bedside.  This person has already told me there’s no real need for me to be there, and yet I want to be. Which would leave me/us stuck here, and I’m selfishly, bipolar-ly a bit put out by the thought.  The SECOND I try and do something that makes me happy, that goddamn Murphy has to show up and invoke her stupid law! Of course I shouldn’t project – and just wait to see how things play out.

So here I sit, in the rut of day to day boring sameness. Stuck.  Feeling more than a little sorry for myself.  And I haven’t even started discussing the sandwich generation issues yet…. Oh boy!  Talk about frustrating.  Wondering just who the heck that woman is living down the street from  me,  and what in hell did she do with my mother???  There are a multitude of aging and substance abuse issues to address there.  I can view them fairly dispassionately using my “professional filter”.  I can and have offered viable solutions – as if to a client.  My mother wants no part of my ideas. She wants things her way and her way only, and cannot, will not change. Which leaves my stepfather, unfairly, on a slow boat to nowhere.  She doesn’t want to deal with his aging issues and illness, it would mess up her routine (ie her drinking schedule) too much. For example, my sister and I have suggested they make their small unused dining room a second bedroom/sitting area for him so that he can putter around and not disturb her if he can’t sleep.  But… NOOOO!  She’s flat out said numerous times  “I can’t take it, I’ll just leave.” – which leaves me speechless and wondering if she ever took her  marriage vows seriously at all.  I find myself increasingly angry with her and at her.  I straight up told her she’s not coming here if she leaves, and suggested she just cut to the chase and get a divorce if she can’t handle it. She doesn’t want to, yet she’d just abandon her husband – who shouldn’t be left alone – but who presents no danger to himself or anyone else. My mother refuses  to believe that  (“I don’t know what he’s going to do” – because he won’t do what she wants him to on HER schedule).  Visiting nurses and home health aides? Sure, but according to my mother, for too few hours. (she’s already decided that, without even trying it first). She won’t talk to a therapist either.  So… “whatever, Ma”  I guess I’ll just sit back, shut up and get ready to clean up the mess after the situation implodes.  And I’ll literally be able to watch it all from my deck, oh happy day!!

So I say ENOUGH ALREADY! I can’t get away from anything, but need a break. I get up, go to work, deal with all that  work stuff, come home- to the same house, same dishes in the sink, same laundry, same set of unsolvable issues, address what I can, get the chores done – go to bed, get up and do it again…. AMEN. So tired and emotionally depleted.  Yet I’m still needed – and I just haven’t got it to give.  I’m uncomfortably numb, a deer in the headlights of an oncoming diesel truck. Which is part of the reason the Viking is having “berserker” fits on occasion, just adding to the stress.   I feel a little better now that I’ve verbally virtually vomited all through this post.  No easy solutions – but that hovering SH*T Fairy- (her name is Brigid Murphy by the way) she can leave anytime now. Really… Seriously… Right Now.

Awake Groa Awake Mother illustrated by John Ba...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Offering my most abject apologies here for the wasteland my blog has become lately.  There is so much going on in my life right now that when I do have a free minute – all I want to do is relax and not think about anything. I’m hoping things will slow down a little soon, because I do feel better when I write and I love hearing from my readers and blogger friends and relatives.  I also desperately need a vacation, I haven’t had any significant time off since the holidays.  So I’m taking this opportunity to write quickly; as I found an opportunity to surface for a quick breath of air  (“Gasp!”)    I’m due to go under again in just a few minutes,  so sending you all love and big hugs!  I’ll try to post snippets and some pictures if I get the chance. Right now, I’m taking care of me and listening to my inner voice- which is telling me to relax and do nothing  whenever I get the chance.  Please know I love you all and really appreciate all the friendship and support you offer me every day.  You lift me up. Hugs again  (One can never get, or give, too many of those!)   Best,  Donna

Speaking Up

This may or may not be a long post today, folks.  Not sure how much of a “rant” I’ll be going on; but I wanted to write today about the importance of speaking up for yourself and your loved ones as regards health and medical care.   As a mom, I’m used to advocating for my children – having spent years going in and out of the pediatrician’s office with them.  Now that they’re older, I’m spending more time in the outer waiting room but I’m still actively involved in advocating for their care. My husband, bless his heart, has to have the medical stuff and questions written down for him if he takes one of the girls to a med appt – but at least he’ll go, right?

As many of you are aware, I’m also now at the point of starting to be more involved in my parent’s health care decisions. My mom recently signed the HIPPA disclosure forms and provided a copy of the health care proxy to her dr’s office, so now they can actually speak to me…..  (sigh! – I find this very aggravating for a myriad of reasons and were I to start listing them I would be wayy off topic and seriously ranting – very quickly. So I’ll save that for another time)  I can tell you one thing I find TREMENDOUSLY frustrating is the older generations unquestioning acceptance of whatever their doctor tells them.  And, their seeming inablility to be more of a squeaky wheel when needing answers to their questions.  For example,  I asked my mom the other day  why some tests had been ordered for my step dad and why he was still in the hospital.  Her response was: “We’re just doing what they tell us to do.”   I find this lack of curiosity disturbing,  with apologies to Lord Vader  😉 .   Its almost like they’re becoming lemmings heading towards the proverbial cliff.    I’d at LEAST like to know WHY I’m jumping, but apparently they do not.   I can say with certainty that my mothers answer (above) was not related to any privacy concerns, because the entire family knows whats been going on…. so yeah, its frustrating.   He’s been stuck in the hospital over a week now and we don’t seem to be any closer to any answers for him whatsoever. Consequently, I will be writing down some questions for my mother to ask his health care team. If she waits for these people to call her back she’ll be waiting till hell freezes over, so I’ve suggested she ask at the desk when she visits, and make at least 2 phone calls daily, until she gets some answers.

As far as my mom’s health care goes,  she had some labs drawn when she had her annual, but she doesn’t know what they were for so I will have to contact the office and ask them, and  then get the results.  Mom doesn’t call to ask, she figures they will call her if anything’s wrong.  Which of course they would, but I just wonder why she wouldn’t want to know her lab results.  Am I anal? Probably.  But I had a very bad experience a few years back with a severe anaphylactic reaction to sulfa.  I mentioned to my doctor that I thought was allergic to it and he cursorily checked my chart – nothing noted.  So he prescribed the med, and I ended up in the ER and admitted to ICU overnight.  Come to find out, the nurse had not brought the information forward from the previous page in my chart – where it was clearly noted.  Needless to say, the doctor offered profuse mea culpas when he saw me on rounds the next day.  And now, if I say anything – the doctor pays attention.

My parents generation is one that does not question a doctors’ authority at all, forgetting that the doctors are human and just as fallible as the rest of us.  We know its up to the patient to advocate for themselves and their loved ones,  to be an active part of their health care team instead of just the recipient of health care services; ask questions, which can only improve their health care in both the short and the long run.  Now if I can only get my Mom to understand this and start doing it……

In The Circle

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation (Photo credit: MediaStorm)

All things unfold as they are meant to, in the circle.  Its been a rough week here in my neck of the woods.  I’ve posted before about being in the middle of the sandwich generation.  We are now gearing up for the full-on sandwich buffet menu here.  I have a filial duty to my mother to provide respectful and empathetic assistance as much as I can.  I intend to honor that, yet finding the line to walk it is proving difficult. I have much to consider besides my parent – not the least of which is my own family and their needs, as well as my own.  I’m more than a bit stressed, to stay the least. Its the busiest time of year for me at work with the end of the fiscal year looming, our annual fiscal audit coming up,  and recontracting with the state for FY 13 in process. I couldn’t possibly be more busy and there couldn’t be a more inconvenient time for my parent and step parent to be having health issues….  I know, that sounds extremely selfish, and I feel like a horrible person for even thinking it, never mind actually writing it down.   I know I’m not alone in the boat,  I have my sister and my step siblings to assist them as well.  Yet, THEIR  house is not where my mother shows up in the middle of the night because of her anxiety, and THEIR phone is not the one ringing at 4 am because my mother happened to see a light on in my living room…. (Yes –  there are definite drawbacks to living down the street from one’s parents, just so you know).  OK, enough kvetching for one post (I’m sure  you’re tired of reading it anyway).

I went with Mom yesterday to her annual physical.  She brought the health care proxy forms and signed the HIPPA releases so my sister and I can be informed about her health and speak with her providers. HIPPA can be SO flipping RIDICULOUS – her health care provider would not even allow ME to tell HIM any information until those STUPID forms had been signed!    I said a quick prayer before heading out to this appointment yesterday.  A prayer so that I could remain focused,calm, and objective in advocating for my Mom.  It seemed to have worked.  Things unfolded naturally and I was able to communicate what I needed to -to both my Mother and her health care provider – in a respectful and caring manner.  I’ve been angry and frustrated with her –  I won’t deny it – and my Aunt (her youngest sister) reminded me gently to try my best to put it aside and focus on the goal – which is to help my Mom.  Since I knew I couldn’t do that by myself, I asked for divine assistance – and got it.  I am now more confident that her HCP is fully informed about what’s been going on with her and left her doctor’s office feeling a bit more positive about the situation at hand. Also, I left there knowing that my mother heard what I had to say because I said it without anger. My Mom’s other sister has also been instrumental in helping me focus and I truly appreciate the fact that my mother has such supportive and caring siblings – and I have such supercalifragilisticexpealidocious Aunts! Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it takes one to care for the sick and elderly.

Today was my stepfathers day to see his dr.  Mom called me after lunch today to let me know he’d been admitted to the hospital to run some tests. (nothing too serious) I could hear the relief in her voice that they will be able to get some answers and treatment for him.  Hope springs eternal that her anxiety will remain lessened, and my phone or doorbell won’t be ringing in the wee hours.  The family has some planning to do, certainly,  in order to assist  them with their health and safety – and to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.

I am eternally grateful that my sister and I did not have to deal with all this with our Dad. Despite the horrible ache of not having been able to say goodbye, at least we didn’t have to watch him on the slippery slope of old age and  ill health. Because it SUCKS – Royally……

Here’s the song reference:

Lebo M. – Circle of Life (From “The Lion King”)

All I Need is Just a Little


PPerseverance. I gotta hang in there and deal with whatever comes my way, as it comes my way – and not before.

AAttitude. Keep it positively real, and really positive.

TTolerance. It is what it is.  Accept what I cannot change.

IInspiration.  Surround myself with people and things that nurture and inspire me. Give it to God when I can’t handle it.

EEndurance.  Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

NNon-resistance.  I need to go with the flow.

CClarity.  I need to make sure I understand what is going on so I can react accordingly. I need enough information to work with. I must ask when I do not understand.

EEquanimity. I must remain calm.  ( every time I say that  I think of “Animal House” – and I giggle)

I must go to my happy place as often as possible – perhaps all of the above are good directions to get there?  I think yes!

Patience – Guns N  Roses